Information published on 24 January 2012 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 275.

Spain: taking stock of the first year of UIC-gauge freight traffic to Barcelona

  • News from UIC members

It is now a year since the placing in service of the new international link on standard UIC gauge between Figueras and Perpignan, and the continuation on the same gauge to Barcelona. This line has involved some shunting of traffic that previously went through Portbou, but it has also generated new services and in the overall balance one must note, taking advantage of the greater possibilities of freight on the new line and the time reductions, an overall increase in cross-border traffic of 23 per cent, the new link taking on the passage of 9,200 TEUs and 96,000 tonnes shifted by Renfe Mercancías (Renfe Freight).

The new line has generated new possibilities given that it allows for longer trains, up to 750 metres, with greater freight capacity (up to three hundred tonnes more per train) and with shorter operation time (up to six hours), since it eliminates freight transfer times and occupation of the train-paths, and has meant for Renfe the movement of 96,000 tonnes of its international traffic on standard UIC gauge.

The destinations of these trains have always had their origin in Barcelona, be it at Adif’s El Morrot terminal or the various terminals within the Port of Barcelona. These destinations have basically been Lyon, Toulouse, Milan and Amberes. This last service, incorporated just a few weeks ago, is really the only new regular traffic generated in terms of freight, since the others, be it the Barcelyon or the services with Hupac to Milan, were trains previously routed through Portbou.

The first test runs have been made, which boost traffic potential linked to the development of the Mediterranean Corridor (núm.6) RTE-T (Annex I to Regulation 913/2010/CE), where the traditional route via Portbou is still clearly the leading player in this international railway connection through Catalonia, for it has mobilised 795,000 tonnes this year, which has meant an increase of 23 per cent in the overall balance of this international corridor with respect to tonnes transported by intermodal traffic in 2010 by way of the only previous Spanish-French border.